University of South Florida Athletics

Young but Dominant in College Sports

Even though the USF athletic program has been around for a short time compared to many other major universities, it has become a competitive force in all fields of NCAA sports.

As any student of the University of South Florida will tell you, sports are a big deal. The largest sports today are likely baseball, basketball, and football. However, USF's first game was a September 1965 soccer match against Florida Southern. In March of 1968, the University of South Florida was admitted to the NCAA. After admittance to the NCAA, more sports followed soccer. Basketball was introduced in December of 1970, with baseball and football following in the decades to come.

For many years, basketball was the king on campus. The Sun Dome, built for the basketball team, has become an important symbol for USF. The facility hosts a variety of events that appeal not just to the students of USF, but to the people of Tampa as well. However, the Sun Dome was not an easy project to finish. The construction took three years and was riddled with technical problems, including a crane falling into the foundation and causing $200,000 in damage. The Sun Dome was completed in 1980. Later on, a $35 million dollar renovation project improved the Sun Dome facilities along with other athletic facilities. Since its completion, the Sun Dome has hosted musical acts such as Alice Cooper and Elton John, athletic events like boxing, basketball, soccer, tennis, and a variety of other events, including lectures, speeches, and graduation ceremonies.

John Allen, the first president of USF, was strongly against football. Allen believed that having a football team would cost too much, and would take away from the academic mission of the university. As a result of this, it would take 37 years for USF to start a football program. On September 6, 1997, USF begins its first-ever season of NCAA football. The football team won their first game by a score of 80 to 3. In 2007, the Bulls reached number two in the NCAA rankings. Football continues to be the most popular sport on campus. The 2016 football team won ten games, the most wins in a season in USF football history.

The University of South Florida has developed a world-class athletics program. USF athletics and the Sun Dome have permanently changed the Tampa Bay area and the USF community for the better. So, now and until forever: go USF Bulls!

Images

"A Reluctant Rocky"

"A Reluctant Rocky"

A photograph of the University of South Florida's athletic mascot, Rocky | Source: USF Tampa Library, Special and Digital Collections | Creator: Arleen Spenceley View File Details Page

"A Rollicking Rocky"

"A Rollicking Rocky"

A photograph of the University of South Florida's mascot | Source: USF Tampa Library, Special and Digital Collections | Creator: Arleen Spenceley View File Details Page

USF FOOTBULL poster

USF FOOTBULL poster

A promotional poster from University of South Florida's "Footbull" campaign for the school's inaugural intercollegiate football season. | Source: Jim Louk, "Happy 15th Birthday, USF Football" (http://www.gousfbulls.com/ViewArticle.dbmlz&&DB_OEM_ID=7700&ATCLID=204990022) | Creator: University of South Florida View File Details Page

Chucky Atkins

Chucky Atkins

A phenomenal basketball player for the University of South Florida during the mid 1990s, Chucky Atkins was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2012. | Source: Jim Louk, "USF Hall of Fame Class of 2012: Chucky Atkins," (http://www.gousfbulls.com/ViewArticle.dbmlzATCLID=205689845) | Creator: University of South Florida View File Details Page

Denise Belcher

Denise Belcher

Senior Outside Hitter Denise Belcher attacking during the University of South Florida's win at the USF Invitational. | Source: "USF Volleyball Stays Undefeated With Pair of Wins" (http://www.gousfbulls.com/ViewArticle.dbmlzDB_OEM_ID=7700&ATCLID=211159589) | Creator: University of South Florida View File Details Page

Bulls Unite

Bulls Unite

A poster from the University of South Florida's contemporary marketing campaign for the school's athletic programs. | Source: '"Bulls Unite' Campaign Among Nation's Best" (http://www.gousfbulls.com/ViewArticle.dbmlzDB_OEM_ID=7700&ATCLID=210721296) | Creator: University of South Florida View File Details Page

Rigel Fernandes

Rigel Fernandes

USF golfer Rigel Fernandes, focusing on his shot. | Source: Jacob Hoag, "USF Men's Golf is Honing in on a Return to College Golf's Center Stage," The Oracle, 23 September 2015 (http://www.usforacle.com/news/view.php/1011532/USF-mens-golf-is-honing-in-on-a-return-t) | Creator: The Oracle View File Details Page

Raymond James Stadium: Home of USF Football

Raymond James Stadium: Home of USF Football

A photograph of Raymond James Stadium, where the University of South Florida's football team plays home games. | Source: "Raymond James Stadium" (http://www.gousfbulls.com/ViewArticle.dbmlzATCLID=210350272) | Creator: University of South Florida View File Details Page

2016 USF Softball Team

2016 USF Softball Team

A photograph of the University of South Florida's 2016 softball team dugout. | Source: "Softball Releases Fall Exhibition Schedule," (http://www.gousfbulls.com//ViewArticle.dbmlzDB_OEM_ID=7700&ATCLID=211160841) | Creator: University of South Florida View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Damarius Muldrow, Kenneth Stephens, and Eric Wright, “University of South Florida Athletics,” Tampa Historical, accessed December 11, 2018, http://tampahistorical.org/items/show/13.

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